Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TFC 2 Cruz Azul 1 - Start strong and finish flimsy?

The mixture of great promise and a touch of dread that this game presented to us tonight has my head reeling. The beauty, the majesty and the power of the first half had every Toronto fan dizzy with delight. The ball movement, the creative touches, the awareness of each other, the ability to drive forward with the ball, using long passes to switch the point of attack were all on display in abundance. I saw more zest and zing in the first half than I have seen in entire months of play this year.
Martin Saric was the scorer of the first goal. It came early and credit should go to Maxim Usanov's hustle into the corner in pursuit of the ball, Dero's quick flick and Mista's ability to make things happen.
Mista scored the second on an excellent cross from Raivis Hscanovics.
The two goal lead at half time should have been more. Toronto was flying. Every player had contributed and they looked like a cohesive team.
The second half was a slow shift into a more defensive mode. Deguzman had been superb in the first half, but his clunky passing and tendency to give the ball away too easily returned for the second. The substitutions took some energy away- Peterson for Saric and Fuad Ibriham for O"Brien White in particular. Joseph Nane for Mista was understandable as Nane brought the physical side that Saric had been providing to the midfield.
Then it went sour. Why on earth did Cruz Azul get permission to take that direct kick that resulted in a goal when Toronto had a player being tended to on the sideline. It seemed that Fuad Ibrahim had brought the injury to the attention of the ref. Shouldn't the ref have made a call on the contact earlier? Did he think the head injury was self inflicted?
The ref seemed lost at sea towards the end. Cruz Azul was going to ground anytime a TFC ankle was within a metre of them. There were elbows thrown and contact made and the ref just let things escalate.
Then in the end DeRo seemed to get a yellow card for receiving an elbow. Even the way the ref came into the corner to consult with the linesman was maddening. The play had been in that corner for minutes, what had the ref been attending to that he needed to find out what the linesman had seen? It was as if he had slipped away for a snack.
Toronto looked great for a long while. We should not be squawking too much about such a potent attack and a victory with a squad that did not include Maicon Santos, Chad Barrett, Stefan Frei and Dan Gargan. Giving out late away goals is not the way to advance from this group stage.
Oh, but before I forget- the unsung hero of the night had to be Adrian Cann. He was strong, swift and confident all night. His ability to shut down their attack , notably when he was using his head, was a joy to watch.
Repeat the first half twice against New York this Saturday and all will be sunny and wonderful. Cut out the flimsy at the end part and my reeling head can rest.

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